Google has reported a troubling increase in the number of requests to censor political content, especially from Western democracies.
In a blog post, Google’s senior policy analyst Dorothy Chou, analysed the figures for content removal requests for the second half of last year and noted that there has been a steady increase in the number of requests for removal of political content coming through from various Government’s around the world.
For example, the Spanish Government filed a request to remove 270 search results for articles and blog posts referring to public figures while a Polish public institution asked for removal of links to a website that criticised it. Both requests were denied.
“We noticed that government agencies from different countries would sometimes ask us to remove political content that our users had posted on our services. We hoped this was an aberration. But now we know it’s not,” said Chou.
??“This is the fifth data set that we’ve released. And just like every other time before, we’ve been asked to take down political speech. It’s alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect—Western democracies not typically associated with censorship.”
During the second half of last year, the UK made a total of 49 requests for removal of content, while the United States made 187 requests.
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